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Politics

Candidates’ responses to environmental questionnaire

The Globe sent the Boston mayoral candidates 10 questions on environmental issues. Each candidate’s full answers are provided below. Three candidates — Charles Yancey, Charles Clemons Jr., and David James Wyatt — did not provide answers.

Felix Arroyo

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

Yes. Greening our city and implementing a long-term approach to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emission encourages economic growth and helps improve our public health and our overall quality of life. Boston has made important strides towards mitigating our environmental impact and ensuring a healthy living and working environment for all of our residents, but tremendous challenges remain. I have developed a 6 point plan to address those challenges and make Boston a more sustainable city, which includes reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, promoting renewable alternatives, implementing the Diesel Emission Reduction Ordinance, and improving public modes of transportation. I believe it is one of the primary responsibilities of government to ensure that everyone, regardless of race or income, has a healthy environment in which to live, work, and raise a family.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

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While cutting carbon emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 is indeed an ambitious goal, I believe we can and we must achieve it. There is mounting evidence about the negative, long-term effects of climate change, including coastal flooding, higher temperatures, and more extreme weather. We must work to improve our environment in ways that will make people happier and healthier, such as promoting urban agriculture and ensuring that every Boston resident has access to clean water, air, and green space.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

As a city with a substantial amount of older infrastructure, Boston faces the dual challenge of incorporating green building practices into new construction while also retrofitting existing buildings to reflect advances in energy conservation practices. As Mayor, I will work with stakeholders at the federal, state, and city level, as well as private parties, to successfully implement strategies designed to lessen GHG emissions from Boston’s commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. I believe we should continue the innovative Renew Boston, reform the city’s zoning ordinances, and initiatives like the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance because it not only creates jobs and gives us the power of information to measure and manage energy efficiently, but also is cost effective, good for our economy and for our environment.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

It was not that long ago that the single-stream recycling was a new idea and now it is a successful program in our city. I believe we should introduce a citywide curbside composting program to divert food waste from our landfills and could be sold to local farmers to grow more healthy food. A local start-up in Boston called Bootstrap Composting has already diverted 170,000 pounds of food scraps in the last two years. We have the potential to make a great impact by implementing a composting program as a city.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Anaerobic digestion is an important part of waste reduction and green energy production. I would be open to the idea and willing to explore the feasibility

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

There are many more steps we can take to ensure that less of the waste we create ends up in landfills. I have a vision for Boston where there is a recycling bin next to every public trash can in the city, including on our streets and in our parks. While the city has distributed tens of thousands of recycling bins to private residences throughout Boston, there is less consistent access to recycling on our public streets and in our government buildings and green spaces. By increasing the feasibility to recycle on our public streets and in our parks, we will increase our recycling rates.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land?

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As we confront the growing reality of climate change, one of the most pressing challenges is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We can do this by making meaningful investment in alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar. As Mayor, I will build upon the momentum already begun towards renewable energy and work with businesses and residents to expand the solar energy base, through untapped opportunities, like installing solar panels on the roof of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. We must make it a priority to work with businesses and residents to tap into the immense potential of wind energy, and I will work towards a goal of 100 Megawatts of wind power 50 Megawatts of solar installed in Boston by 2020.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

I support expanding the bottle bill to include water, juice, sports drinks and other beverages to be redeemed for a nickel. This will help increase recycling, reduce waste in our city, and save millions of taxpayer dollars in the reduced cost of waste disposal in our city. Having this question on the ballot will allow the voters to have a voice in the direction of our city and state.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

Supporting the Grow Boston Greener initiative and planting an additional 100,000 trees in Boston by 2020 is one of my priorities. These additional trees will make the city cooler overall, absorb air pollution, improve the aesthetic appearance of the city, and add to overall quality of life. Supporting this program is an important piece of improving Boston’s environment for all of the city’s residents.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution -- 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

I am a lifelong Bostonian and a lifelong asthmatic and unfortunately, this is all too common story in Boston. The safety and cleanliness of your environment should not be determined by your race, nationality or income level. Most of the harmful particulate matter that pollutes our air comes from construction vehicles and that is why I have introduced and support passing the Diesel Emission Reduction Ordinance (DERO). It will require construction vehicles to be replaced or retrofitted to significantly cut the harmful emissions from those vehicles into the air we breathe. I believe this can have a dramatic effect on the high asthma rates in the city and improve the health of our city while improving our environment and making sure that we give our children a better city than we have today.

John F. Barros

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

I am committed to reducing carbon emissions, through meaningful and sustainable climate related action in Boston that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to meet our goals and to lead the nation. As Mayor, I will work with residents and businesses to create a city – a Boston Green —that is prepared for and will thrive in the coming global realities of climate change and a transition to clean energy. Together, we will prove that cities are the engines for a new green economy that not only supports the health and quality of life of all our residents, but generates good local jobs, technological innovations, and shared wealth that is truly sustainable. Building a green city does not only make environmental sense, but is also good economics and a strategy for more equitable development. To get all Bostonians involved in envisioning and working towards this future, I will launch Boston Green task forces, similar to the Green Ribbon Commission in every neighborhood. The Green Ribbon Commission is a citizen-led collaborative working with local government to reduce energy use in Boston’s commercial buildings. These broad stakeholder groups will identify key priorities, launch local initiatives, and review our performance to provide feedback and ideas on how we can accelerate progress. Our neighborhood Boston Green task forces will then come together and work with the Green Ribbon Commission to develop a city-wide plan that will keep Boston a beacon for the rest of the world. In this process, we must address our local vulnerabilities, as well as remedy the environmental disparities that still exist in low-income neighborhoods. No neighborhood can be left behind in Boston’s green future. As demonstrated in Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, the most resilient cities are the ones that have robust community leadership and social networks.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

The Boston Climate Action Leadership Committee created a Climate Action Plan in 2010 that set a course to reduce Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 and it also set a target of 80% reduction by 2050. These are targets that I believe we cannot afford to miss. To reach these goals the City of Boston needs to lead by example. The City owns and operates a large number of properties. There is a great deal of money wasted on paying for energy waste and there is an opportunity to advance efficiency throughout city government. The innovations and clean energy solutions that are created to address efficiencies for municipal buildings will then be more accessible to commercial property owners.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

As mayor, I will mandate every department in City government integrate sustainability, greenhouse reduction goals and climate preparedness into planning and implementation. I will create a senior level post for a Resilience Officer to oversee this process and integrate the City’s resiliency planning efforts related to infrastructure, operations, facilities, and services across all relevant departments. We will consider both the cost of implementing actions to improve our ability to adapt and the potential cost of inaction. We can promote a prosperous, livable, equitable, and environmentally sustainable economy while simultaneously growing our economy and population. We will develop a clean energy master plan that focuses on low-carbon energy and efficient solutions, such as district energy, solar energy and combined heat and power technologies. We have to prepare our residents and businesses for the climate change impacts we are already experiencing including sea level rise. City government cannot do it alone. As mayor, I will work with the multi stakeholder Green Ribbon Commission and Boston Green Task Force to assess the risks the City faces from sea level rise in the medium and long term and outline achievable strategies for increasing resiliency citywide.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

Yes, Boston should lead and not wait for the state. We should education our residents and create the system that supports composting and recycling food waste. It is not the requirement that will spur maximum recycling, but rather incentives and providing easy access to recycling. Residents will not only buy into programs, but will promote programs when they are the driving force behind them. Providing resources through Boston Green task forces will allow residents to be the driving environmental force instead of government.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Yes, I support building advanced anaerobic digestion, reuse, recycling and composting programs and facilities that also ensure fair wages and safe workplaces for workers. These industries can create 10 times more jobs than incineration and landfill, while improving air and water quality, public health and the climate

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

Using the 2014 expiration of the recycling contract, I would support aggressive exploration of additional recycling for residential buildings with more than 6 units and recycling in commercial buildings, including the possibility a small tax rebate for property owners that participate. I will also replace existing trash cans with dual/recycling cans in schools, city buildings, sidewalks and parks.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

The City must lead when it comes to renewable energy. A comprehensive plan and strategy must be created to increase energy efficiency and clean energy in municipal buildings. I will do this by implementing:

Energy use tracking, energy audits, retrofits, improved operations and maintenance.

Installing highly efficient technologies such as combined heat and power and renewable sources such as solar and wind.

Raising the bar on construction standards and practices so that new buildings are net zero and major renovations are at least 50% more efficient.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

Yes, its time we update the law to change the narrow definition of redeemable bottles and reflect the growing trend in the increasing use of noncarbonated beverages.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

Tree coverage is important for air quality. Clean air is fundamental to a healthy place to live. Air pollution is dangerous to our health and plays a leading role in many diseases including asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory problems. I would partner with the many community efforts that are working to increase green space and tree coverage to plant new trees and take care of them. This would greatly reduce the cost to the city while increasing local awareness and capacity for maintenance. Youth summer jobs can also be connected to tree planting in an initiative to help build landscaping skills of Boston’s high school students.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

First, we need to pass the current pending Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance and strictly enforce the state’s anti-idling law by increasing the city’s enforcement by empowering police and parking attendants to ticket for violations. We can also reduce congestion by keeping cars moving with better timing of traffic lights. However the best way to improve air quality is to reduce congestion and encourage alternative and clean modes of transportation.

Daniel F. Conley

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

Absolutely. Boston has made impressive strides to increase its energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, but there is more we can do. The most important step is improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings by insisting on the greenest standards for new buildings, and incentivizing the updating and retrofitting of existing structures in a steady, systematic way. Focusing on transportation is also crucial so encouraging the use of public transportation, car-sharing, bikes and walking is important. In addition, as Mayor I’ll insist that the city only procure hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles. Energy use reduction is also critical, and I’m committed to doubling the city’s commitment to solar energy, from its current goal of 25 megawatts to 50 megawatts by 2020; put Boston on track to purchase a fixed and growing percentage of its electricity from renewable sources each year between now and 2020; and encourage and incentivize the use of new energy and construction technologies to produce more zero- or near-zero energy homes and buildings.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

My goal is to exceed these reduction goals and move up the target dates. I would accomplish this by continuing to promote green buildings, including residential dwellings; energy conservation efforts, including expanded incentives for commercial and residential property owners to reduce their energy consumption; expanded access to renewable energy technologies, again including incentives for more solar and wind power; and finally, focusing on more efficient transportation modes, as well as alternative modes of transportation. This would include continuing to procure only hybrid or alternate fuel vehicles, building better infrastructure to support more bicycles and making Boston’s streets safer for them. Finally, as mayor I’m going to be quite vocal about public transportation and the need to get it upgraded, updated, and on secure financial ground. We need to be encouraging more ridership but we need to be able to offer a product that is reliable, sustainable, and gives consumers a more pleasant ridership experience.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

Boston, like New York, is a waterfront city. New York came face to face with this reality in truly tragic fashion through Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it wrought. I firmly believe that Boston needs to be creating short term disaster planning and long term solutions similar to what Mayor Bloomberg did in New York. As Mayor I’ll put together a top panel of engineers, scientists, climatologists, developers and others to look at the issue and recommend concrete solutions. These are not easy issues, the cost of many of the changes that some already recommend are astronomical to the point that many people dismiss them out of hand, and yet these hard conversations need to be had because the cost of not acting could be so much greater. Each of these questions needs to be raised and viewed as part of the whole challenge. Consider that New York is looking for $32.8 billion to repair all the damage the storm caused, and New Jersey suffered $36.8 billion in damage.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

I support composting and want to see the practice expanded as part of Boston’s overall strategy to increase recycling and reuse and reduce trash and waste. My approach would begin with educating, encouraging and enabling its practice. I would emulate Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York who enlisted more than 100 restaurants to highlight and participate in a Food Waste Challenge, aimed at diverting 75 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2030. In Portland, Oregon, the city will provide residents with a big green rolling cart to compost meat, dairy, yard clippings and even pizza boxes. There are also composting vessels suitable for apartments or small backyards. Plus, at least 90 cities now have regular compost collection programs.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Due to its potential cost and size, I would support the creation of a regional anaerobic facility and would work with Boston’s neighboring communities to determine their level of support, tolerance of the cost, and a suitable site for such a facility.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

I first ran for election to the Boston City Council on a platform that included a call for curbside recycling. As mayor, I’ll do everything I can to put Boston on track to achieve a citywide recycling goal of 80% before the decade is out. I’ll encourage developers of all new office and residential buildings to factor recycling needs for workers and residents into building designs and incentivize existing landlords to offer more recycling capacity and opportunities to residents. I’ll also expand Boston’s recycling efforts to include residential composting in order to move Boston toward its goals.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land?

One of the ideas I offer for businesses and residents interested in pursuing renewable energy solutions and retrofitting properties, is Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing, or PACE loans. PACE loans are authorized now in 30 states and the District of Columbia and it allows property or business owners to borrow the money for conservation or clean energy upgrades and pay it back over a long term through a property tax surcharge. The approach began because securing bank financing for these kind of upgrades was difficult at best. Massachusetts law allows this but no program exists here. As mayor I’ll work hard to put a program like this in place so that business and property owners who are interested in cutting their energy consumption and bills but for whom the upfront cost is prohibitive can proceed.

In addition, I am committed to doubling the city’s commitment to solar energy, from its current goal of 25 megawatts to 50 megawatts by 2020; put Boston on track to purchase a fixed and growing percentage of its electricity from renewable sources each year between now and 2020; and encourage and incentivize the use of new energy and construction technologies to produce more zero- or near-zero energy homes and buildings.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

The Bottle Bill has been called one of the most successful environmental programs in history. It was written years ahead of the emergence of “sports drinks” and bottled water as popular consumer products and major occupiers of store shelf space. It makes perfect sense to expand the bottle bill to cover these containers and, absent legislative action to make this happen, would support a ballot initiative.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

Absolutely. Trees improve our environment, air and water quality, make our neighborhoods more clean, attractive and livable. Their mere presence in front of a home will almost always add to the home’s value and even benefit people’s psychology. As Mayor, I’ll seek to expand the city’s investment in trees in a number of ways, including more aggressively seeking out private and non-profit partners, as well as public and private grants. In addition, I’ll enlist neighborhood, civic, business and advocacy groups to assist in the effort by helping to keep the trees healthy once they are planted – checking the trees for fungus, aerating the soil around the trees, and other measures that protect the investment and reduce tree loss.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

I would enforcement No Idling Ordinances and encourage construction, transportation and shipping companies, among others, to deploy vehicles and equipment that meet EPA specifications. In addition, one of the ideas I have proposed is a Clean Air Action Plan for Boston Harbor. While docked in the Harbor, auxiliary diesel engines running the internal power of a ship spew out polluting gases estimated at over 1,000 tons per year. This doesn’t even include the pollutants that come from the ships entering and departing port, the thousands of trucks and equipment that service the ships, fill and empty the holds and move their cargo. My would include incentivizing shipping companies to use low sulfur fuel when coming in or out of the Harbor, implementing a Clean Trucks Plan to phase out older and dirtier from the harbor area, and requiring cargo-handling equipment to meet certain EPA guidelines and specifications. This was what the port of Los Angeles did and it resulted in a 45% reduction in diesel, sulfur and other emissions and was heralded within the maritime industry. The benefits go beyond cleaner harbor air, but will reduce emissions that fall disproportionately on the neighborhoods surrounding the Harbor, including East Boston, South Boston and Dorchester, which are disproportionately lower income and racially diverse. These reductions also help to reduce incidents of asthma which affect 11% of adults in the city of Boston, but affect African-American and Latino residents at a rate of 15% and 12%, respectively, compared to 5% and 9% for Asian and white residents.

John R. Connolly

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

Yes, the city must reduce its carbon emissions. The debate about whether we must respond to climate change is over — it is one of the gravest threats we face, and it is here today. The question now is how we respond, and I believe we must deploy a range of strategies that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and transition us to a successful clean energy economy. That means everything from improving buildings’ energy efficiency to boosting renewable energy sources; promoting walking, biking, and transit; and planting more trees. In my campaign, I am pleased to have the support of environmental leaders like Ian Bowles, the former Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs under Governor Patrick. I will not be afraid to take the steps necessary to move Boston to the forefront as our nation’s top green city.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

In 2009 and 2010, I was proud to serve on the city’s Climate Action Leadership Committee, the panel convened by Mayor Menino to develop strategies for responding to climate change. In our final report in April 2010, we called for citywide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. I strongly support these goals. They represent steep, but necessary, reductions in our emissions. As we learn more and begin to achieve these goals, we will also need robust interim goals between 2020 and 2050 to hold ourselves accountable on the path to 80 percent emissions reductions.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

According to the Boston Harbor Association, had Superstorm Sandy reached Boston at high tide, 83 million square feet of the city could have flooded, “with floodwaters reaching City Hall.” Improving our resilience will not be cheap, but we’ll be looking at billions in flooding damages if we don’t act. Yes, we need our building codes to proactively address the threat posed by rising sea levels and major storms, but building codes are just one part of this. I’ve proposed convening a panel of climate scientists, civil engineers, and other leading experts to do for the Boston area what Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently unveiled for New York City: a sweeping, detailed plan to examine our critical infrastructure and offer concrete recommendations for changes we must make to become more resilient.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

Much of the trash that goes to landfills from Boston every day could instead be heading to composting facilities to become nutrient-rich soil for our gardens and flower beds. Curbside composting would allow residents to participate in this important step in waste reduction without each person having to own their own composter. San Francisco and Toronto, both cities that are larger than Boston, have had curbside composting for years. It is time for Boston to not only catch up with other cities on composting, but to be a national leader in this area. It is not to say that this will be an easy challenge to take on, but I think we need to start by making composting available and encouraging residents to take advantage of it.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Yes, building new facilities like these are critical to meeting our economic and environmental goals. Anaerobic digestion turns organic waste into compost material or biogas for electricity. Germany – which is in many ways the reference market for renewable energy – gets more green power from anaerobic digestion than from wind and solar combined. Boston already has a state-of-the-art set of anaerobic digesters at Deer Island and I will make it a priority to be sure that existing capacity is being utilized. In several other parts of the City of Boston, additional digester facilities are being explored. As with wind power, siting standards are important and issues like truck traffic must be addressed for any given site to make sense. But I see anaerobic digestion as being on the critical path for us to meet the ambitious waste diversion, green energy, green jobs, and climate goals that I have set out.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

I’ve called for a goal of diverting 80 percent of all waste – residential and commercial – from landfills by 2020. That means a dramatic boost to recycling and fostering a whole new industry to take advantage of the energy potential of yard and food waste. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced last fall that his city had already reached 80 percent diversion. Boston needs to respond and become the East Coast leader on green waste management, reducing emissions in landfills and through combustion.

We can do more to educate people about what’s recyclable. As mayor, I will support a citywide recycling awareness campaign. I will work to expand the city’s recycling contract to include larger residential buildings as well as small businesses. Our public spaces are perfect locations to increase the visibility and ease of recycling. Every public trash can in Boston should have a single-stream recycling bin alongside it that collects the same items we recycle at home. And I am very pleased to see that the Boston Public Schools are moving toward single stream recycling, both for the direct benefits and for the opportunity to engage people at a young age about the importance of protecting our environment and natural resources.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

I’ve called for a new goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar in Boston by 2020. This represents a quadrupling of Boston’s existing solar goal and represents enough energy to power roughly 16,000 homes. Massachusetts has one of the best solar markets in the country and Boston should be leading the way. We should look to city-owned properties and iconic buildings like the Convention Center as priorities for solar power installations. As Mayor, I will make sure that we review each city property for its suitability for energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy generation. We will find the best opportunities for efficiency, solar and wind and clear the way to exploit these opportunities.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

I have filed three resolutions in the City Council calling for the passage of an updated bottle bill. Each of those resolutions has passed the council. Every time, the legislation has failed to pass the state legislature. Many of our neighboring states have expanded their bottle bills to include water bottles and other prevalent bottle categories. I was happy to see a coalition of organizations launch an effort to update the bottle bill in 2014, and as mayor, I will put the full weight of my office behind the effort.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

Planting trees is a way not just to beautify our city and improve our quality of life, but also to help reduce greenhouse gases. As mayor, I will redouble our efforts to increase the city’s tree canopy. I will coordinate a citywide effort to strengthen tree maintenance and planting in our city’s parks. I have also been a supporter of the city’s urban wilds, and I will continue that support as mayor.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

Poor air quality is an issue that disproportionately affects residents of color in Boston, as evidenced by the much higher rates of emergency room visits for asthma among black and Latino children in Boston. So improving air quality is an issue of both environmental and social justice. We need a comprehensive effort that includes approving the diesel emission reduction ordinance, enforcing the state’s anti-idling law, increasing the city’s tree canopy, sending less waste to landfills, and promoting alternatives to driving.

Rob Consalvo

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

See #2

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

The goals of the Green Ribbon commission are laudable, but I want to go a step further. As mayor, I will make Boston carbon neutral by 2050. Climate change is as important as any other issue the city is facing and we have an obligation to future generations to get this right. I will reduce energy consumption in public buildings by 25 percent, implement a green curriculum in schools to prepare BPS students for the green economy and work to make sure that every resident of Boston lives no more than a five minute walk to an accessible for of alternative transportation.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

To address the concerns of rising sea levels, we need to amend our zoning code to reflect the new reality and to make sure that our existing buildings and new construction are designed to withstand the most serious impacts of storms. Property issues are important, but they are not the only issue. In addition to developing best practices and new zoning codes, I will hire a new BRA director who has experience with green development practices and climate change so that we can appropriately plan for the future.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

As a green city, Boston can and should do better in managing our waste, but simple mandates alone are not going to get us where we need to be. When it comes to food waste, we need to think outside the box for innovative solutions. As mayor, I will create a solid waste master plan for the city that will reduce the amount of trash and ensure recycling of all material including plastic, glass and metals, while reducing costs for taxpayers. In my first term, I will explore a pilot program to begin collecting food waste for composting and recycling.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Yes.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

As mayor, I will create a solid waste master plan for the city that will include a multi-language campaign to educate long-time residents and new Bostonians alike and will design a recycling program within BPS to teach our children the importance of recycling. We need to look at all of the tools and strategies, including recycling mandates and trash limits and develop a plan that works for Boston’s residents.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

I would build on the current plan to evaluate all of our existing municipal properties for the feasibility of installing wind, solar, green roofs, combined heat and power and bio-energy installations. As mayor, I would increase the percentage of electricity purchased by municipals departments that comes from renewable sources and I will reduce energy consumption in public buildings by 25 percent.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

I support expanding the bottle bill to include noncarbonated beverages and would use my position as mayor to support the change in policy. Upon taking office, I will convene a task force to develop a solid waste master plan for all materials, residential and commercial, that achieves a fifty percent recycling rate for Boston by 2020. I will also issue an executive order requiring recycling in all of our schools, parks and throughout our streets where we have trash receptacles. Every trash receptacle will have a recycle bin next to it.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

I support the goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020. Increasing the number of trees in the city is important, but the location of those new trees is just as important. Priority should be given to neighborhoods where we have less tree canopy and higher rates of asthma and higher impacts from high heat days. It is not simply about the quantity of trees, it also needs to be about the quality of the spaces. It is equally important to address the need for a long-term plan to maintain and protect the existing street tree canopy.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

Where feasible, I would require that all new motor vehicles purchased by the city will be alternative fuel, flexible fuel or hybrid vehicles. I would require diesel retrofits for all city vehicles and require the same for contractors doing business with the city. I would also require that all diesel fuel used by municipal vehicles will be at least 10 percent biodiesel by the end of my first term.

Charlotte Golar Richie

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

Absolutely the city must reduce carbon emissions. It’s a matter of preparing our city for the future, and building a better foundation for our children and our grandchildren. The better head start we get in accomplishing this now, the better positioned our city will be to thrive and compete in the future as firm carbon emission limits confront us all whether we like it or not. A large portion of the city’s emissions is tied to our infrastructure – both buildings and transportation – and making changes that significantly reduce emissions will take time. So, our actions today are important for the long-term path of emissions. Sensible planning and investment choices can make a big difference over the long run.

The City of Boston produced its first Climate Action Plan in 2007, and then published an updated plan in 2011. These represent a good foundation which we should build on. Unlike some other pollutants which have often been associated with a single industry or isolated industrial activity or chemical product, the greenhouse gas problem touches every economic activity from agriculture to power generation, from cement production to automobile fuels and so on. Boston’s Climate Action Plan already identifies a wide range of policies and programs, which is exactly the kind of comprehensive program that is required. Different aspects of these policies and programs are the responsibility of different levels of government. For example, the Massachusetts State Government has taken leadership in capping carbon emissions from power generation and developing renewable portfolio standards to encourage wind and solar power, among others. The city can cooperate with and facilitate the successful implementation of this state program in many ways, such as working to site renewable generation, among other things. The city has the lead responsibility in other areas such as building codes and certain transportation policies. The next mayor will have to show leadership in implementing the many different programs and policies outlined in the Climate Action Plan, and also in reevaluating the effectiveness of the policies through time.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

This ambition is great. I believe we can achieve these reductions, and we need to set ambitious targets. But I also know that it is going to be tough to realize our ambitions. Setting ambitious and achievable targets is an important start. Scoping out the programs and policies to accomplish them is also important. But the next step is going to be implementation. We know from experience on many other environmental goals, such as recycling and energy efficiency programs, that we often fall short of achieving goals which seemed doable. My experience as a successful executive in the Mayor’s cabinet, the head of housing, is an important qualification to consider on environmental issues. I have the skills to successfully lead us to realizing our ambitions.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

We shouldn’t think of preparing for rising sea levels as something that is in conflict with the city’s tax base. The entire point of preparing for rising sea levels is to preserve the city’s long-term economic future. And because the two goals are really one, there is a path that works for both at the same time. Finding that path takes work and collaboration. I will listen to developers’ concerns. We need to take advantage of developers’ experience and knowledge. The Mayor’s job is to balance the broad interest of the city as a whole, and to lead the many different constituencies to a common strategy that serves that broad interest. Rising sea levels are a real danger. Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call for many people. So we will need to change building codes to confront this problem. Exactly how and on what time frame is a difficult task that needs to be developed through very carefully and with wide consultation.

The city is already wisely considering the implications of sea level rise for the water and storm drainage system of the city, and for emergency evacuation plans, among other things. The prospects for sea level rise are highly uncertain and will play out over many decades. Consequently, the city participates actively in broad forums monitoring the science and policy issues pertaining to sea level rise. This is a long- term issue that requires leadership beyond quoting a specific near-term program or action. It is a question of approach and the quality of governance.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

I recognize that waste management is a critical issue. The Commercial Food Waste Bill is designed to reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills. Food waste and organics generally comprise 20-25% of the current waste stream going into the trash can. The food waste ban assists Massachusetts in reaching its goal of reducing the waste stream by 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Regarding waste management in the residential sector, I prefer to initially focus on greatly improving recycling participation. I have unique government and political experience in implementing programs and services that my team has initiated. I also have ample executive experience in building bridges across multi-sectors to effectively advance solutions where inertia use to exist. I also recognize that a waste management campaign that includes an awareness of waste production to reduce home waste management issues is key. While my initial plans focus on improving recycle, I also plan to reduce the amount of waste Boston generates.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

I fully support exploring the benefits of building an anaerobic digestion facility in Boston.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

As I mentioned previously, waste management is a critical issue. It is linked with other pertinent issues, such as public health, land use, energy and more. It is a complex problem that requires integrated solutions, including creative approaches. I am the only mayoral candidate who has run a City of Boston agency, built bridges to multi-sector leaders to deliver programs and services and balanced a $100 million budget. I have the managerial and political experience and expertise to move an initiative into successful action. This is key. Regarding Boston’s recycling rate, my first step will be to inquire about the barriers preventing greater participation. Based on that understanding, I look forward to engaging the residential and commercial sector with progressive outreach programs with effective messaging. I am also interested in considering recycling competitions and incentives to assist in promoting and increasing recycling.

In addition to motivating multi-sectors to recycle, I also want to educate the public on understanding how to reduce their waste and to be aware of the environmental, social and economic impacts of their consumer choices.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

Making Boston a net zero energy city is a priority of mine. I believe in expediting the deployment of distributed generation throughout the city, especially renewable energy and combined heat and power. I also propose decreasing greenhouse gas emissions with multi-sector programs designed for positive impact such as installing solar panels, white roofs and/or green roofs on every rooftop.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

I support a ballot initiative to allow non-carbonated beverages to be redeemed. It has a proven record of serving as an incentive to reduce waste.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

Conservation of the city’s green spaces needs to remain a goal under Boston’s climate action plan. Parklands, play areas, and open space are critical to the quality of life of a densely populated and urban, pedestrian friendly city like Boston, and I am committed to growing the amount of green space in the city. I support a no net loss policy that ensures adequate protection for Boston’s precious green space.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

Improving Boston’s air quality is a key focus of mine. Air quality is a complex issue with many contributing factors. It will require multi-faceted solutions. I understand that to successfully address this issue I will work closely with EEA and DEP. Initially, I will focus on idling and other construction contributors to this issue. Again, with my managerial and political experience, I will mobilize citizens and multi-sectors to shape and implement an initiative for impact.

Mike Ross

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

The city absolutely has a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and to do everything we can to address our city’s contribution to global warming. I support the goals of the city’s existing climate action plan that aims to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 I would work to reduce emissions by supporting more sustainable forms of transportation like the public transit and bikes; I would strengthen programs to help make homes and businesses more energy efficient; increase the amount of electricity the city uses that comes from renewable sources; and increase recycling to reduce Boston’s solid waste incineration.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

Both goals are essential. The challenge for the next mayor will be making sure we stay focused on the immediate goal while aggressively pursuing the long-term vision to cut carbon emissions by 80% in the next 35 years, essentially achieving carbon neutrality. I will do both.”

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings?

How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

We must codify resilient design standards into all new development along Boston’s waterfront and within critical flood zones. I don’t believe it will reduce the city’s tax base. The cost of inaction is greater. Insurance companies are already rewarding properties that are designed for climate resistance. I led a process much like this before, when I pushed the Building Energy Reporting Disclosure Ordinance through the City Council. While there was opposition to the legislation from developers, I brought leaders from the community to the table and we got the legislation passed.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

I led the efforts to expand recycling in Boston as a city councilor. I believe very strongly in recycling — we pay extra so we can recycle at my campaign office. Boston still has a long way to go to achieve the waste diversion rate we need, and curb-side composting is a key part of getting there. I’d favor piloting curb-side composing programs in a few neighborhoods to better understand how to make it a success across the city, with the ultimate goal of expanding them city-wide.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Anaerobic digestion facilities are increasingly becoming an important component of our state’s renewable energy portfolio. There are significant benefits to this technology that can turn organic waste into useful energy. I would be open to an anaerobic digestion facility being built in Boston. However, there are important questions that any city looking to site such a facility needs to ask, ranging from how related odors and noise would be managed to what the traffic impacts of the trucks bringing in the waste would be. Through a community planning and discussion process, we can determine if this is a facility that makes sense for Boston.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

Despite efforts to increase recycling for multi-family residential buildings and businesses - efforts that I helped lead - Boston still has a long way to go to achieve the waste diversion rate we need. There are a number of steps that we can take in cooperation with the real estate and business communities to reduce barriers to large building recycling that will greatly help us increase recycling rates. While other cities have had success with Pay As You Throw (PAYT) systems, I believe that a residential PAYT system would need to be gradually phased in in Boston as we address basic issues that are preventing greater recycling rates. Things like stronger public awareness programs, greater adoption of basic recycling in large buildings, and recycling in public spaces will all help residents shift their behavior to recycling more ahead of implementing a PAYT scheme. Efforts to reduce waste in our city also must be measured against core principles of environmental justice and must not place a burden on low-income families and communities.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

In 2008, I held a city council hearing on the feasibility of implementing wind turbines in the city of Boston to explore both turbines along the water and on municipal buildings themselves. While Boston is one of the windiest cities, permitting and installing wind turbines are very difficult.

Luckily, there are a large number of opportunities for solar energy installation sites on city-owned buildings like schools. Boston should continue working toward the goal of 25 Megawatts of installed solar energy by 2015, leading by installing solar in city-owned or managed property as well as promoting solar to businesses and homeowners through Renew Boston. Solar thermal often has even greater financial return than solar PV and the City of Boston should establish an aggressive goal for kBTU/hrs of installed solar thermal, including Boston Housing Authority buildings.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

Reducing the use of bottled water and ensuring the ability to easily recycle used bottles are critical to minimizing the amount of plastic waste generated and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated from transporting bottled water. I support the current iteration of the Bottle Bill in the State House as a way to reduce waste associated with bottled water. I also strongly support public education efforts to encourage people to drink tap water and use reusable water bottles instead of single-serve bottled water.

As Mayor, I would support the legislation to ban the use of municipal funds to purchase bottled water with the exception of use by first responders in emergency preparedness and response situations when no other option for potable water exists. I would, however, direct emergency personnel to investigate viable alternatives to bottled water so that the city can be completely free of bottled water.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

We need to commit to that goal. As with many problems, my first instinct is to say, “who is doing this better?” New York, with their MillionTrees NYC program, is seeing a lot of success by bringing together local partners with corporate sponsors. I’d see what we could do to duplicate that model and get back on track towards our goal.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

It’s unacceptable that our levels of air pollution are that high, and it’s unacceptable that a lot of that pollution is concentrated in some of our poorest neighborhoods. Children from those neighborhoods are more likely to have asthma and other medical conditions, which plague them for the rest of their lives. One way we can fight air pollution is by enforcing laws that are already on the books. Idling — leaving a car or truck on while parked — is a huge contributor to air pollution. It’s actually a ticketable offense, but we only have a few people covering the whole city. I have suggested deputizing our parking enforcement officers so those officers are able to also give out tickets for idling. They are already out walking the streets, and would be uniquely positioned to be our first line of defense in tackling this problem.

Bill Walczak

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

Climate change is the most serious environmental challenge facing Boston — and the world — so addressing this danger is my primary environmental focus. We must reduce energy consumption and replace fossil fuels with renewably generated electricity. Mitigating climate change also produces other environmental benefits, such as improving local air quality, conserving natural resources, and preserving open space. My policies will simultaneously address climate change, reduce air pollution, create jobs, and save money for Bostonians.

Specifically, I propose:

Reducing Costs Through Lower Energy Use

Accelerate the trajectory of Renew Boston, whose energy conservation mission is central to achieving the 2020 GHG reduction goal

Support the recently enacted Building Energy Rating and Disclosure Ordinance

Require new buildings to meet stringent energy standards by reducing the size threshold for LEED certification or compliance with ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guides

Improve efficiency by producing heat and electricity together (cogeneration) in city district heating systems.

Expanding Renewable Energy (see response to question 7 below)

Improving Mass Transit

Work with the MBTA to establish 24/7 service

Ensure Boston residents have the option to use public transit instead of owning a car

Push for electrifying MBTA bus and commuter rail systems to reduce urban air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Buy more electric municipal vehicles and provide more electric vehicle charging stations.

Give buses and light rail intersection priority, and create dedicated bus lanes in congested corridors and on key routes

Improve Boston biking by expanding bike paths, lanes, and the Hubway system.

Preserving Our Urban Environment

Incorporate heat island reduction measures in zoning and building regulations

Expand urban agriculture to provide fresh food, create jobs, and reduce food transportation energy

Incorporate energy usage and carbon emissions targets in City master planning

Supporting Innovation

Continue the successful expansion of the Innovation District to maintain Boston as a center of clean technology investment and commercialization

Formalize collaboration with local universities and research facilities to strengthen those institutions and apply their capabilities for the benefit of Boston’s citizens.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

These greenhouse gas reduction goals have been adopted by the state and by the Menino administration, and they are consistent with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of actions needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. These goals are ambitious and appropriate. Goals should also be reviewed periodically, and the actions we take now may set the stage for greater reductions before 2050. Ultimately, humans must stop removing fossil-fuel carbon from the ground and burning it.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

Studies on minimizing Boston climate change impacts suggest that a combination of preparing buildings for flooding and protecting buildings from flooding will be the most cost-effective approach. While this issue requires more study, I anticipate that some building code changes will be required to adequately prepare our infrastructure. I do not expect this to reduce the tax base, but rather to preserve the tax base. I will identify and begin the long-term preparations for protecting Boston from sea-level rise and catastrophic storms. I will also advocate for preservation of marshland and other low-lying areas as buffer zones for flood protection through the Conservation Commission.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

I would favor creating more composting options, composting promotion, and composting education. I would work to implement a simple 3-category waste disposal program: (1) Recycleables, (2) Compost, and (3) Default Landfill. This will cover all compostable materials, such as grass and leaves; not just food waste. But I would not favor mandatory composting measures by themselves at this time. To be effective, it must be part of a comprehensive recycling program.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

Yes. I support all clean and cost-effective renewable energy resources.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

As Mayor I would promote more recycling and more recycling education. With the exception of an expanded bottle bill (see question 8 below), I do not support mandatory recycling measures at this time.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

My renewable energy proposals include:

Establish a renewable energy requirement for city buildings: 15% now and 30% by 2020

Promote renewable energy programs at city schools

Support a growing Renewable Portfolio Standard for utility customers as technology costs decline

Encourage cost-effective residential solar energy self-generation

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

Yes and yes. About 80% of containers with deposits are recycled, four times more than the overall recycling rate. The deposit is a simple and proven way to increase recycling and reduce litter. I was a leader in the passage of the original bottle bill, and support expanding it.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

I support this goal. Trees provide welcome shade and beauty, as well as sequestering carbon. There may be many reasons tree planting is behind schedule, but good management is about overcoming problems to accomplishing goals, and I excel as a manager. I would systematically identify and remove obstacles to accomplishing this goal and other important goals.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

My focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also reduce diesel pollution. While filters on diesel construction equipment have been proposed, these filters would not reduce carbon dioxide emissions from this equipment. I seek policies that accomplish multiple goals at that same time. For example, electrifying MBTA bus and commuter rail lines would both reduce diesel pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Martin J. Walsh

1. Should the city try to reduce carbon emissions, and if so, what would you propose to do that?

Without question. Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is critical to mitigating the climate changes we are facing and what our children and their children will face. I am committed to building on the excellent work begun under the Climate Action Plan launched by Mayor Menino by working with local and international experts in the field to position Boston as a leader in GHG reduction.

Reducing GHG emissions is a complex and comprehensive challenge, and the scope of response cannot be addressed in short answer format. However, I would like to stress that we understand the scope of the challenge and the crosscutting effort it requires. GHG emission reductions will be achieved by partnering with residents, organizations, and businesses across Boston, and as mayor, I am committed to leading that effort.

2. Is the city too ambitious or not ambitious enough by aiming to cut carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050?

I think the 2020 goal is sufficiently challenging, but we are looking at ways to exceed the 2050 goal of 80 percent reduction. The Boston Climate Action Leadership Committee and Community Advisory Committee did fantastic work that formed the basis of Boston’s current Climate Action Plan, but each year we learn more about what steps we can take to reduce GHG emissions, and it may well be that we can incorporate new learning and innovations in order to exceed the 2050 goal.

3. As sea levels rise, do you favor requiring new building codes to put critical systems on higher floors, even if it reduces the city’s tax base? And what about existing buildings? How would you respond to developers’ concerns? Anything else you think the city should be doing about rising seas?

Sea level rise, increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, and ever more extreme storms are the most concerning outcomes of climate change. I am committed to leading visionary responses to the coming changes. It is not enough to just focus on reduction of greenhouse gases.

Our response must be comprehensive, and it must be bold. Yes, we will be looking at the role of building codes in encouraging and supporting developers to build smart for Boston. Yes, we will be looking to support actions that protect existing buildings from climate change impacts. We know there will be concerns from developers because we’re setting a high bar. Change is challenging, but can be an impetus for innovation, and we look forward to partnering with developers to support that innovation.

But beyond building codes, we will also be looking to the best practices around the world to make our city more resilient during climate change, and nothing is off the table right now from floating developments to a series of locks and dams ringing the city. We all saw what happened to New York City during Superstorm Sandy—devastation that could have hit Boston as well had the timing of the storm been just six hours different. Boston faces very significant challenges from climate change, and we cannot be timid. As mayor, I would be committed to bold and visionary action for a thriving, healthy Boston.

4. As the state moves to ban large institutions from discarding food waste and considers doing so for residents, should Boston act first and require residents to compost or recycle food waste rather than tossing it in the trash?

I am absolutely in favor of residential recycling and composting of food waste. In my first term, my focus would be on education and support, building on what has been started, on reducing the barriers for residents to adopt this new behavior, and then, once the education and support systems are in place, looking at how legislative measures might be used to complement those systems.

5. Would you support an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Boston to convert food waste into energy?

I think it’s an interesting idea. I’m open to big changes in the way we operate in Boston, particularly around significantly increasing our green practices. There are many benefits to diverting food waste to an energy generation plant, including cleaner electricity generation, less material in landfills, and potential savings in trash removal costs for businesses. There are other options, perhaps complementary, for handling food waste, such as composting for use in community and residential gardens as well as city green spaces, so we’d need to look at the most efficient uses for that food waste across the city and how the impacts, positive and negative, of those decisions affect residents.

6. Until recently, despite tens of millions of dollars spent, a raft of new programs, and the availability of curbside recycling to nearly everyone, only about 20 percent of all residential garbage is recycled in Boston, much less than is recycled in other major cities. What would you do to change this?

As the question itself implies, all of those efforts have led to an increased recycling rate (about 30%) which is good news. The bad news is, of course, that we could be doing much better. As anyone who has ever tried to change their diet or exercise regimen knows, behavior change is really difficult. Education can take a long time and a lot of repetition and exposure to have an impact. It’s important not to give up on all the great work that has been started, because it forms the foundation for long-term, effective behavior change. However, I am not opposed to looking at increasing monitoring of waste flows and enforcement of recycling paired with effective penalties. I understand the benefits that have been achieved in some cities by implementing pay-as-you-throw approaches, but I am deeply concerned by the net effect of pay-as-you-throw creating disproportionate financial hardship for the poor.

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

I plan to model adoption of renewable energy approaches on city properties: adding solar panels to existing buildings, for instance. A critical component of reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is changing how we generate electricity. Electricity generation is, by far, the greatest contributor to Boston’s GHG emissions. The use of solar and wind technologies is fundamental to cleaner electricity, and we are committed to the city leading that transition.

As a previous question touched upon, we have many options for renewable energy including diverting food waste for electricity generation. Beyond the city leading the transition to renewable energy sources, I am committed to supporting innovation and entrepreneurial efforts at the local and municipal level as well as inviting in companies from outside the city to partner with us.

Most of all, it’s a matter of political will. Are we committed to making big changes, some more difficult than others, in order to put Boston on the right path or are we going to just try to tweak the current models and hope things get better anyway? As mayor, I would be committed to visionary and bold actions to secure the future of Boston.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support?

Yes, I would support a ballot initiative, and I would use my position as mayor to support this initiative as recycling of carbonated beverage containers have, far and away, the highest recycling rate. I supported legislation to update the bottle bill.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

Here, the famous saying about “No plan survives contact with reality” came into play. The plan to plant 100,00 trees was based on some flawed logic, including trying to plant trees in existing, narrow sidewalks where trees cannot flourish. By expanding the program to include residential and business properties included with the public right of ways, we would dramatically expand planting sites AND the viability of the trees planted. It’s important to emphasize that the number of trees planted is one thing, but it’s entirely another to count how many survived.

Additionally, and this cannot be stated too baldly, the city budget for trees, for trimming, for planting new ones, has been cut to such an extent that residents wait a year and a half to get a tree trimmed. Increasing the urban tree canopy cannot happen without the political will to fund the initiative at the level it needs.

I am committed to looking at how to get this initiative back on track, including looking at the organizations currently in charge, and whether they are the right fit for the job, what kind of support is needed, and how we can move past excuses and toward solutions.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

That was not a surprising result, but still heartbreaking and unacceptable. However, significant progress has already been achieved since that study came out a few years back, and the benefits are continuing as diesel emissions drop year by year.

Reducing diesel pollution will be a top priority for my administration. Much as the state DEP requires in its contracts, the city will require construction companies contracted by the city to retrofit their equipment with emission control devices (ECDs). We will continue to require that all city vehicles purchased have hybrid engines or use less polluting fuels; we will use the 2014 contract negotiations with waste hauling companies to reward companies that retrofit their vehicles with ECDs; we will look at expanding and strengthening out anti-idling laws and emission inspections; and we will investigate how best to support the use of ECDs by companies which find their use a financial hardship. While I understand that the responsible use of ECDs represents a financial challenge to companies, it is not acceptable for the costs of non-use to be borne by Boston residents. I look forward to working with all companies that are committed to the health and well-being of Boston residents.

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